Grace Mugabe was returning home when she spotted the soldiers in the streets. Within hours the army had taken power

As dusk turned to dark in Zimbabwe on Tuesday evening last week, a convoy of three vehicles drove fast towards Harare, the capital, entering the city from the north.

Much of the road was in poor condition, but it is unlikely the woman in the second of the three cars felt much discomfort. Grace Mugabe, the wife of the president, Robert Mugabe, was riding in a $250,000 Mercedes Maybach imported last year and equipped with a suspension designed to carry occupants smoothly across holes substantially larger than even the ruts of most roads in the impoverished country her husband had ruled for 37 years.

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